Isn’t the World section of Google news a pretty depressing read lately? There’s the Middle East conflict, upheaval in South America, and a crisis in Syria. Trying to keep the state of international politics straight is head-spinning – but what’s it like for those in the business world whose job it is to manage international trade? A recent SAP Game-Changers radiocast addresses this topic, and panellists Kevin Riddell, international logistics manager at Tremco Inc.; Rajen Iyer, cofounder and CTO of Krypt Inc.; and Marcus Puschke, principal consultant at SAP, discuss ways to reduce the growing complexity of international trade and accelerate it.
Regulations, sanctions, and restrictions!
There’s no way around them, and they get bigger all the time – and so does your compliance burden. According to Iyer, “It’s hard for companies to not just interpret those regulations and apply them in their business, but also look at how they can even automate the supply chain.” He believes that, when dealing with multiple geographies, different languages, and constantly changing regulations, the key to progress is automation.
But automation can’t help without support from the top down. Every organization needs a technology and innovation cheerleader, and, according to Riddell, it would help if these leaders share a few quirks with those who run the government and don’t mind curling up with a giant book of regulations.
Trade as a political chess piece
Moderator Bonnie Graham quotes Riddell as saying, “Trade compliance landscape is changing rapidly. Governments like the EU and the U.S. are using sanctions to exert influence on other countries’ policies. This means they can prevent their citizens from doing business with other countries or listed entities.”
Riddell explains that sanctions can be positive when enforced in lieu of military action. He also details how the list of sanctions can go beyond countries to individuals, including those who reside in the U.S. New sanctions are imposed each day, and your business must react immediately or face consequences.
Iyer suggests that an all-system automation process can help you manage your situation for exception cases where you can selectively release. You have to screen and make sure that you have documentation or that you have interpreted the rule correctly, and that’s why you involve lawyers before you set the system.
The essential human element
Riddell cautions, “You need expertise until artificial intelligence is completely in place. It’s going to be a human interfacing with the automation. And if that human isn’t properly trained or possessing the knowledge, you could still get into trouble.” Iyer agrees that continuous learning on the job is of the utmost importance.
As automation trends down to smaller companies and becomes more widely available, these businesses will be able to handle even more complex requests. Processes will be x-rayed from A to Z, and integrated compliance checks and customs clearance procedures will become a quality feature for a company excelling in these fields. The better you handle the data you transmit, the more trust you can gain from your business partners and from the authorities.
For more information on how to speed up international trade, listen to the full radiocast.